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Saturday, August 1, 2009

939. an excerpt from "Sex Ed: The French Playing Cards"

The following is an excerpt from the Sex Ed Chronicles, a featured series of short stories about sex education in the Sixties. You can read the entire story (and others) by clicking on the link: Sex Ed: The French Playing Cards


We were still in double sessions but now I had the afternoon shift, and it always started with something called “X Period”, which was a boys only twenty minute homeroom. I guess it was by design. I have a hunch that the “Adults with Children” somehow convinced the “Adults without Children”, who ran the insane asylum, that this was in everyone’s best interest. Anyway, I was assigned to sit in the back of the room. Right in front of me sat Cal. Cal was the only eighth grader I knew who drove his own car to school.

I was keeping a low profile, just trying to get some last minute math homework done, when Cal turned around and nodded his head at me. He got my attention. What else could I do? He was twice my size and ten times more hairy. He pushed something partially hidden by his large matted hand onto my desk and left it there. He signaled with his eyes to take a look. He turned around to continue whatever it was he did: chew wood, tattoo his arm, write poetry, whatever.

I sneaked a peek down. Based on the box, it appeared to be a deck of "Bicycle" brand playing cards. I checked on the teacher in charge of monitoring us. He was completely preoccupied with a crossword puzzle while he mauled an egg salad sandwich. I leaned back, pulled the box underneath the desk and into my lap. I searched around again for any suspicious onlookers.


So I returned to the deck, flipped opened the top and pulled out the cards to have a gander. I thought big deal, a mere deck of cards, Cal must be bored, but if I want to grow up and have a family of my own someday, I must entertain his wishes.

There are times in one’s life, very rare moments, when words like “surprise”, “shock” or “astonishment” don’t quite capture the essence of the event. One second you are minding your own business. The next, you find yourself in the middle of something big, something spectacular, something outrageous. What was about to unfold falls into such a category.

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